I did it. I finished the race to the stones. On what was one of the hottest days we have had this year, I somehow ran and walked the 100 km To the finish line in 13 hours 23 minutes.
It was of course my first ever a Ultra and whilst I have put in so much training this year, I never really knew how it would go on the day. The heat is certainly something I was worried about leading up to the race because I had not had much chance to practice running in the heat.
It was an amazing day! I started strong at 6:30 am and skip to the first-aid station at 6 miles. I stopped at mile 13 to top up my water and to grab a snack and headed on my way. Through the iconic ‘field of dreams’ a beautiful crop field and through the wooded areas which were incredibly technical. I actually nearly fell over tripping over a tree root but thankfully managed to stop myself hitting the ground. I saw lots of people that weren’t quite so lucky.
I chatted to so many people during the run; some like me attempting their first ultra, some that had done many before, but we were all there for the same reason and there was a huge sense of collectiveness amongst us. A mutual understanding of what we were all going through.
I decided to stop at the halfway point and remove my shoe and sock and put a blister plaster around my toe. In the end this turned out to be the right thing to do. I have discovered the delight of peanut butter and jam sandwiches! Wow! How would I not found these before? They really did the trick giving me energy and that feeling that I was getting something a little bit special!
Just after halfway a couple of friends joined to run with me which gave me a massive boost. It was nice to chat about different things, talk about plans for the rest of the race, dealing with the heat which was now incredibly impressive. I was dunking my hat and bath in buckets of water at every opportunity in an attempt to keep cool. The Ridgeway is very exposed. There is no shade and whilst you might get a little breeze here and there, it did nothing to cool you down. I applied and reapplied suncream, protecting myself as much as I could.
Pitstop six and I refuelled again. 18 miles to go. Another blister had formed on my other toe so I repaired that too. Aside from that I felt pretty good. Yes my legs ached, yes I was boiling hot, but I was managed to keep hydrated and knew then that I would absolutely make it to the end. So many people came to support me on the day and every time I saw a familiar face it was amazing! An absolute joy!
At the last pit stop I couldn’t face any more food. There were 7 more miles and I felt I had enough in me to keep going. My legs hurt now and the last bit I knew was very technical underfoot. I ran/walked and then walked the last few miles, knowing my run pace would not actually be that much quicker than my walk.
Running towards the finish line I felt immensely proud of myself. I finished 100km and I loved every minute of it.
I learned so much from this event and the training over the last 6 months. Some more obvious that’s others. I learned about nutrition, hydration, kit and the course. But importantly for me I learned how mentally strong I am and just what I am capable of. I was expecting there to be times in the race when I wouldn’t want to carry on, when my mind would tell me to stop. I had a whole list of things I would tell myself if this were to happen. But that time never came. I wanted to finish, knew I would finish and the doubt never crept in. Maybe that’s because it was my first one or maybe I was just lucky, but what I know is that if I can run 100km, there really is so much more that I can do.
We are remarkably resilient creatures, we can do so much more than we realise. Now it’s time to see exactly what my limits might be….